My parents loved to go to antique shops. And they loved to take me along. In the early days, it was dragging me along, but I learned to enjoy it. What I remember was my father always pointing to the signs on the walls. “You break it, you buy it.” “We break it, we cry, you break it, you buy.” He did not want to be buying anything I broke.
If you know me, you would have a hard time believing that I was a wild child. And in truth, I wasn’t. Hands to myself. Very quiet. Out of the way. Maybe because of the signs. But I never broke anything in a store.
Nowadays, I still see those signs. Even if the sign isn’t there, it’s pretty much a rule that if you break it, you become the proud owner of that broken piece of junk. There was a time not too long ago however when I was in an antique shop and I heard a crash and the breaking of either glass or porcelain. I held up my hands and instinctively said, “Wasn’t me!” Turned out that some man was trying to reach something and bumped a very wobbly table that had several things on it. Wobbly might not be the right word. With the bump, it collapsed. And to the ground went with it the glass items that had been resting on top.
Apparently the man was devastated and offered to buy everything, but the shopkeeper said it was his fault for having a wobbly table. Didn’t hurt that the broken items were inexpensive and that the valuable collectors item which was on the next table had remained unscratched.
Now that I have a shop, I think of that wobbly table and try very hard to make sure that everything in the store is rock solid in it’s positioning. I’m not exactly sure how this mall I’m in deals with breakage. And I don’t want anyone to feel bad about breaking something, even by accident.
Much to my chagrin though, it turned out the other day that I was the bull in the china shop who needed watching. And it was my shop! I had laid out five or six delicate glasses on a shelf. Rock solid. Then I was moving a picture from one wall where it was mostly hidden to a much better location. Right over those delicate glasses. Between the hammer, the nail, the picture and something else providing distraction, I managed to bump the shelf. In slow motion I could see the glasses wobbling. Should I throw down the picture to catch the glass? Could I catch it with my hip? Before any answers came to me, I heard the crack. More of a thud really because one of the glasses landed on the floor. The carpeted section. A nice, thick Persian rug. Then it rolled off the rug, hit the concrete and broke into a dozen pieces.
Bummer! I paid fifty cents for that glass. What a shame. And like the sign says, we break it, we cry.
That’s part of my story. What’s yours?